Seven Arrows Elementary School Hires New Admissions Director

Fiona
Fiona Farrahi

Dear Esteemed Colleagues & Friends,

As you may know, I have made the difficult decision to leave Seven Arrows at the end of this school year. After a decade in my current position working in a job I’ve loved, I feel it’s time to explore other professional possibilities and commitments. It has been a pleasure and privilege to have worked with you over the years, and I sincerely hope I have the opportunity to cross paths with you in a new capacity and continue to stay in touch. Thank you for your partnership and friendship.

Without further ado, I am delighted to introduce you to Fiona Farrahi, Seven Arrows’ new director of admissions. Fiona joins us from Chicago’s Ancona School where she has been a key member of the strategic senior administration since 2010. As the school’s director of external affairs, Fiona is an independent school leader with hands on experience in admissions, enrollment management, marketing, and communications. In addition to her outstanding work experience, Fiona has also demonstrated her ability for leadership and retention through her work with open houses, tours, external marketing events and programs, and social media management. She is a member of the Association of Independent School Admission Professionals and an active member in the Chicago and Lake Shore independent school community.

Most importantly (and as is aligned with our Seven Arrows vision), Fiona understands the power of authentic and trusting relationships, and her approach to admissions is human-centric. In fact, she is very much looking forward to building her own meaningful connections with you and your school communities. She will be reaching out in the summer and fall to introduce herself and begin visiting all the phenomenal preschools LA’s Westside has to offer.

Sonja Carlson
Sonja Carlson

Fiona will be joined by Sonja Carlson in the admissions office as our new admission associate. Sonja joined the Seven Arrows community in 2014 and is excited to transition into her new role after two years as the communications & enrichment manager. In her short time with us, she has proven herself invaluable to the organization. Sonja moved to Los Angeles from her hometown of San Francisco after completing her undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley in American Studies & Media Studies. She loves baking, dancing, and exploring new neighborhoods by foot.

Please feel free to reach out to Fiona and Sonja any time. Have a wonderful summer.

admissions@sevenarrows.org

With gratitude,
Omid Kheiltash

See Beyond The Brochure’s School Profile of Seven Arrows here. or visit Seven Arrows School here.

Related Posts

  • 76
      I'm updating this previous post since I've been hearing that this year (2016-17) is one of the most competitive for L.A. private elementary school admissions. That probably means more kids will end up on wait-lists than in a less competitive year. A frequently asked question is, "Does a wait-list notification really mean NO or…
    Tags: school, schools, admissions, director, will, elementary, private, angeles, los
  • 71
    This is the BIG WEEK. Finally after months of waiting, schools will notify parents about elementary school admissions decisions on Friday, March 18. If you applied for secondary school, or if you applied to Pasadena schools, you most likely found out yesterday.  Friday is the BIG DAY for L.A., you been waiting for since you…
    Tags: school, schools, admissions, private, los, angeles
  • 70
        What:  Elementary School Admissions Directors Fall Kindergarten Fair, 2015 When:  September 24, 2015,  7:00PM - 8:00PM Where: The Willows Community School, 8509 Higuera Street, Culver City, CA 90232 This event will offer information from 45 independent (private) schools in and around Los Angeles. For more information, click on Elementary School Admissions Directors   Don't miss a…
    Tags: school, elementary, directors, admissions, private, los, angeles, schools, community, will
  • 70
      Hi Friends! Happy Summer! Hope you're enjoying our hot summer here in L.A. We just returned from my son's basketball tournament in Las Vegas where it hit 113 degrees. That's just too hot! I posted the team's photo on Beyond The Brochure's Facebook page. If you're reading this post, you are probably anticipating the…
    Tags: schools, school, admissions, private, angeles, los

Read More

Beyonce Performs at Center For Early Education’s Gala (L.A. Times)

Beyonce CEE gala

There is absolutely no way any of us mere mortals would be able to compete with Beyonce and Jay Z for a spot at The Center For Early Education. No way. The school held its annual gala fundraiser where Beyonce performed, paying tribute to Reveta Bowers, the legendary head of school, who is retiring this year. It’s so glamorous you just have to let yourself be swept up in the fabulousness of it all. This stuff is beyond jealousy or envy or even the fanciest private school auctions. It just is.

 

Here’s the article in The Los Angeles Times and The Huffington Post.

 

Like Beyond The Brochure on Facebook for all the latest L.A. private school information!

Read More

The Politics Of Un-Gratitude At A Fancy Westside School

 

Photo: Flickr/Joshua Tree National Park
Photo: Flickr/Joshua Tree National Park

As Thanksgiving creeps up on us, I’ve seen my Facebook and other social media feeds filled with people giving one thing they’re grateful for in order to cultivate looking at the good instead of focusing on the bad. While I generally eye roll at the practice as suddenly everyone’s husband/wife/child/pets/job/plumber/waxer/proctologist is the best ever, I am particularly grateful for one seemingly odd thing: I got to accompany my son on a field trip.

The three years he spent at an expensive L.A. private school were filled with the usual politics that I still find disturbing. The administration deemed which parents were worthy to spearhead what committee. More often than not, those leaders were also the big donors. Coincidence? The same happened with Room Parents. You could not volunteer to be one, you had to be deemed worthy by the administration, receiving an email in later August. These women (always Room Moms, never ever Room Dads) gained special access to the class that non-chosen parents didn’t. They could go to all the parties, go to other special events in class and at school to take pictures for the yearbook and organized who did what for each such gathering. Part of their duties also included deciding which parents could go on field trips.

Back in my private school elementary days in the 1970s and 1980s, if a parent wanted to go on a field trip, they signed up to go and they went. But at this private school it was a super- special designation. Though it was supposed to be blind, with the names of the parents who wanted to go drawn out of a hat, that of course was not the process. Every year, the close friends of the Room Parents went on the field trips. Three years and nine or so field trips and I never got picked. Not once. I’m not good with the maths but I’m pretty sure that’s not statistically accurate. My son would always ask “Why aren’t you going?” and be disappointed, which was heartbreaking because he still wanted me with him.

So imagine when I got the email from my son’s teacher at his new public school asking for volunteers to chaperone a museum trip. I replied “I can go!” lightening fast. I was in. So easy. I was in! The night before the field trip my son seemed to be getting sick so I alerted his teacher that we might have to miss it and to maybe contact a back up parent. “We already have more than enough parents going so don’t worry about it.” So what you’re saying is that a group of parents volunteered to go with their child to the museum, and they were all allowed to go? But, that’s too easy. And fair! So not private school.

Not only did I have the pleasure of accompanying my son and a group of his peers for the day, I was given, a week later, a binder ring on which thank you notes from each student had been personally written to me on index cards. Each class member, whether or not they had been in my group, thanked me for going and had them write one thing they learned on the field trip, so the activity was one of gratitude but also a comprehension check for the teacher.

One of the things that also struck me as odd about our private school was the lack of gratitude towards parents. Yes, donors were acknowledged on the prominently placed public donation tree plaque and rewarded with their name for all to see (and no one chose Anonymous). And of course the highest-ranked parents were rewarded with the prestige committees and privileges. Parents were thanked as group, mostly for showing up to something like a winter or spring concert. But year after year almost no holiday gifts were made for the parents. There were no Mother’s Day and Father’s Day glued together macaroni art, mismatched bead necklaces or cards made. Unless you were designated as a strategically important parent, even the kids didn’t thank you sincerely, let alone anyone else.

Of course no one volunteers on field trips to receive praise (I hope). And holidays aren’t about the gifts (technically). But there is something to be said for cultivating the proverbial attitude of gratitude. Something more than the kids responding in unison to the teacher prompting “Lets say ‘thank you’ to the parents.” Something to recognize all that parents do, even if the campus shuts them out.

On his index card my son wrote to me “Mom, thank you for coming on the field trip. You made it the best field trip ever!!” Why shouldn’t every parent have that opportunity, regardless of their donation size or popularity?

 

Jennifer Smith* was a mom at a fancy westside K-6 school where she tried to play nice until she couldn’t anymore.

*Not her real name

 

Like Beyond The Brochure on Facebook and get the latest blog posts, articles, events and more!

 

Related Posts

  • 68
      I'm updating this previous post since I've been hearing that this year (2016-17) is one of the most competitive for L.A. private elementary school admissions. That probably means more kids will end up on wait-lists than in a less competitive year. A frequently asked question is, "Does a wait-list notification really mean NO or…
    Tags: school, schools, parents, elementary, private, angeles, los
  • 68
    Dear Readers: We are excited to let you know we're working on the Third Edition of Beyond The Brochure: An Insider's Guide To Private Elementary Schools in Los Angeles. Since the Second Edition was released in 2013, there have been some changes in world of L.A.  private schools that made us think the timing was…
    Tags: private, l.a, schools, school, elementary, los, angeles
  • 67
    In Beyond The Brochure: An Insider's Guide To Private Elementary Schools In Los Angeles, we provide copies of real written applications from kids who got into top L.A. private elementary schools. The kid in the sample application below got into 4 very competitive schools for kindergarten.  If you're like me, it really helps to see…
    Tags: schools, private, elementary, school, angeles, los, l.a
  • 67
      Beyond The Brochure Has Been Seen In: 5 Best Mommy Blogs in Los Angeles on Care.com, June 7, 2017. Advice For Parents About Admissions & Waiting Lists, on CBS-Los Angeles (Channel 2) on March 15, 2017. "A Tot Mess" Los Angeles Magazine, September 2016 Nine Things To Know About Private Schools In Los Angeles on…
    Tags: private, schools, angeles, los, school, elementary, l.a

Read More

Echo Horizon School’s Magnificent Makerspace

 

 

Echo Horizon front

Update: As of July 1, 2017, Peggy Procter will become Echo Horizon’s new head of school. And, Lisa Marfisi is no longer with Echo Horizon. Abeni Bias is now the school’s enrollment manager.

Circuit blocks, Playdoh squishy circuits, Legos, woodworking, electronics, fabric, coding, programming, 3D printing, motors, robotics and batteries. What do all these seemingly unrelated items have in common? They’re all tools for the brand new Markerspace at Echo Horizon School.

Back in May, I stopped by Echo Horizon, located on a quiet street in Culver City, to meet with Martha Schuur, the new-ish head of school (she’s starting her 3rd year there). The Makerspace is one of the most important programs she’s launched since arriving at school, so I returned a second time to meet with Lisa Marfisi, the school’s admissions director, to watch the new Makerspace open its doors to students.

 

EH Makerspace3

Excitement was palpable as 5th graders entered the Makerspace room for the first time. They’d been eagerly anticipating it for months and finally it was theirs to explore. But first, they’d get an overview of what they’d be working on and some rules about safety from Jean Kaneko, the school’s design thinking consultant. Her role on the project has been in collaboration with Elaine Wrenn, director of curriculum and technology at Echo Horizon.

The 5th graders listened intently as Jean explained how the new space works. First, kids will become familiar with the concepts of inquiry and innovation. Then, they will create a “passion project” using the tools they select from within the space. Listening to Jean explain the Makerspace, it was clear to me that this is a very unique place, where kids will be ushered into a world of creative collaboration that will require a mix of practical and imaginative thinking and detailed concentration.

 

EH Makerspace1jpg

 

The Makerspace isn’t your basic classroom. It’s more like a mix between a fabulous design space, your grandma’s sewing room and your dad’s tool shed. In it, students from grades 3-6 will learn skills and use tools that real companies like Nike or Apple use to create innovative design products. When it comes to tools, there are tons of options. These student-designers will utilize old-school crafts and cutting edge technology to make just about anything they can dream up. Over the next nine months, the students will ponder project ideas, try various designs, keep some, toss some and re-work others. They might swap a tool for a more useful one. They’ll be encouraged to work by trial and error, experimentation and collaboration. They’ll share resources and ideas. It is the epitome of hands-on, project-based learning.

 

EH Makerspace2

 

Makerspaces are places influenced from fields like technology, engineering and design and where people use similar tools to tinker, imagine and create. The FabLab at Stanford University and the ThinkBox at Case Western Reserve University are examples of Makerspaces in higher education. Echo Horizon’s Makerspace is modeled on the same principles: provide an array of high and low tech tools, from circuit boards to thread, where kids will find the ultimate forum to learn by doing. At Echo Horizon, the Makerspace might even involve the school garden as a tool one week and duct tape, arduino boards (microcontrollers) or batteries the next week. From planning and experimentation to the creation of a completed project, the ultimate Makerspace experience is multi-faceted.

It was fascinating to watch as Jean asked the students to form groups to discuss their first project: A character from The Simpsons who would need a chair created by the students to meet the character’s needs. The students talked about the emotional needs of various characters, like the grandpa who might need a new chair to sit down and rest his legs. A baby was discussed as another option for a character who might have needs the students could solve. As one kid put it, “A character might not want people to bother him, so he’ll need a soundproof home.”

 

EH makerspace 5

 

Echo Horizon students will consult, create and collaborate on a project with a teacher mentor, which will culminate in a Ted style talk presented to parents and peers. After the presentation of their Makerspace projects, they will be able to curate and hang their own shows in the school’s 3 Centers of Excellence: The Think it/Build it Center, The Center for Digital Media and Production and an Art Center.

 

EH STEAM

 

For grades Pre-K-2, kids will use the STEAM Center (above) to become familiar with a sequential progression of learning the basics of wondering, early researching, sharing, collaborating and first steps of presenting. The experiences students will have in these centers will be inquiry based, reflective, collaborative, process oriented and passion driven.

The Makerspace is just one of the many transformations happening at Echo Horizon. Martha has also green-lighted a reconfiguration of the classroom space to create one class per grade with up to 20 students in it. Each class will have two credentialed teachers in a co-teaching model. The average teacher to student ratio is 10:1. Technology is well-integrated the curriculum. For example, Pre-K-2nd graders utilize both iPads and laptops in their classrooms and the Technology Center.  Students in 3rd and 4th grade have 1:1 access to laptops in the classroom and every 5th and 6th grader at Echo Horizon School is provided a laptop computer to use at school and at home.

 

Echo Horizon outdoor

 

Martha is quite impressive, with an accomplished educational background and a knowledge of how to blend new ideas with tried and true practices to build upon the school’s more than three decades of excellence. Martha’s warm smile and outgoing personality made me feel like I’d known her for years, although we’d just met.

Says Martha, “What I love most about being Head of Echo Horizon School is that I get to share in the joy of learning that fills our school. Day in and day out I see the happiest most engaged students that I have ever seen in my 25 years in education. It is exciting for me to see children working together using design thinking and technology to solve real world problems. Every day I am surrounded by talented faculty and students who are truly 21st Century thinkers.”

Martha is contemplative as she talks about her commitment to ensuring that Echo Horizon educates its students to become leaders, thinkers and citizens of a global community. Her overarching vision for the school focuses on the idea of balance. This translates into an integrated curriculum, where what’s happening in science is tied closely to what kids are learning in other classes. To achieve balance in its curriculum, the school draws from a number of educational philosophies to influence the curriculum, from progressive educator John Dewy’s child-centered ideas to the very traditional practice of teaching cursive writing. With 10 % deaf and hard of hearing students mainstreamed throughout the school, the community is an example of true inclusion.

 

EH Classroom 2

 

I walked around the school while talking with Lisa, one of L.A.’s most experienced private school admissions directors, who also happens to be incredibly sincere and accessible. I noted the school’s harmonious, tranquil yet upbeat quality. The teachers are a mix of young and experienced, with diversity that can’t be missed. In the classrooms, there’s a sense of adventure and curiosity. Graduates, she explained, go on to the top secondary schools in Los Angeles including Harvard- Westlake, Marlborough, Windward, Campbell Hall, Viewpoint, Archer and Crossroads.

 

EH 1

 

We ended my visit with a look around the newly shaded and spacious new outdoor facilities, complete with artificial turf. Echo Horizon’s Makerspace is a place where kids can embrace their inner nerd. Or maybe their artistic side…or how about their penchant for computer programming? Watching the kids totally engrossed in Makerspace and other school activities made me think a few of them might discover a life-long interest, or possibly even a career like Nike’s Phil Knight or Apple’s late founder Steve Jobs, based on their experience at Echo Horizon. The future is theirs to see!

Most families apply for Pre-K or Kindergarten. For more information, visit, www.echohorizon.org or contact Lisa for a tour at 310-838-2442.

 

Don’t miss a thing! Like Beyond The Brochure on Facebook!

Related Posts

  • 73
      I'm updating this previous post since I've been hearing that this year (2016-17) is one of the most competitive for L.A. private elementary school admissions. That probably means more kids will end up on wait-lists than in a less competitive year. A frequently asked question is, "Does a wait-list notification really mean NO or…
    Tags: school, schools, will, elementary, private, angeles, los
  • 66
    Here are statements from two excellent but very different L.A. private elementary schools, Westland in Los Angeles and Carlthorp in Santa Monica. It can be helpful to read a school's mission statements, code-of-conduct and other self-descriptions to learn more about its approach to education. Then, comparing and contracting traditional and progressive schools highlights the differences in educational…
    Tags: school, schools, students, elementary, private, los, angeles
  • 66
    Dear Esteemed Colleagues & Friends, As you may know, I have made the difficult decision to leave Seven Arrows at the end of this school year. After a decade in my current position working in a job I’ve loved, I feel it’s time to explore other professional possibilities and commitments. It has been a pleasure…
    Tags: school, will, schools, elementary, private, los, angeles
  • 65
    In Beyond The Brochure: An Insider's Guide To Private Elementary Schools In Los Angeles, we provide copies of real written applications from kids who got into top L.A. private elementary schools. The kid in the sample application below got into 4 very competitive schools for kindergarten.  If you're like me, it really helps to see…
    Tags: schools, private, elementary, school, angeles, los, kids

Read More

A BIG Change: From Progressive Elementary School To Traditional Middle School

Potomac, MD, July 2014
A visit to Potomac, MD, July 2014

There is a common narrative that says moving from a progressive to a traditional school could mean your kid might be unprepared or even fall behind. I’ve never believed that sentiment, mainly because successful students come from all kinds of schools. I hope my kids’ experience helps further dispel that notion. Not surprisingly, some parents wonder (and often worry) about what the transition from a developmental/progressive to a traditional school will be like for their kid. I’ll admit, I was concerned too, but I tend to worry about everything, so this isn’t anything new.  Will this change be smooth, with few adjustments needed to deal with different educational philosophies? Or, will the transition between different types of schools require tutoring, lots of hours studying and stress for their kid? Will programs align or will there be a big gap between the schools?

 

Coming from a progressive/developmental elementary school, my kids entered their new traditional school with valuable skills and strengths. The approach to learning acquired during their early education is intrinsically part of who they are. Yet, crossing over to a new type of school meant they had to quickly learn new skills in areas that were unfamiliar to them.

 

After seven years at The Willows, we realized it was time for our kids to make a change. By nature they are structured, competitive and self-motivated. This signaled to us that it was time to look at traditional schools.

 

Below, I’ve listed some of the most/least challenging aspects of the progressive-to-traditional school transition for my kids.

 

 

Here’s what has been the MOST challenging for my kids:

 

1. Standardized tests. Generally speaking, progressive schools place less emphasis on the value of standardized tests than their traditional counterparts. Therefore, very little time is spent preparing kids for these tests. In progressive schools, classroom work isn’t geared to generating high standardized test scores and the way material is taught differs from the way it appears on standardized tests. During the 4th grade ERBs (mandated for all Independent Schools) at Willows, my daughter got strep throat and missed 4 out of the 5 test days. We asked for a make-up test date and were told there wasn’t going to be an opportunity to make up the test. Let’s just say that response didn’t go over well with my husband who pushed for a make-up test, which was administered for my daughter (it was optional for other kids). The concept, Teach To The Test isn’t found in progressive schools, while there are some traditional L.A. private elementary schools that spend substantial time getting kids ready for standardized tests. Test-preparation was money well spent to prepare my daughter for the ISEE (middle school entrance exam).

 

2.  Learning how to take a traditional test. Traditional schools give tests using multiple- choice questions. Sometimes, there are essay and multiple choice portions, but rarely are there tests that only have an essay question.  The way progressive and traditional schools test similar material (a book, for example) will be very different. For my kids, this required learning a new study skill. Multiple choice tests with answer choices that are very similar are common at traditional schools. This requires reading and studying with a focus on small details of a story, a poem or a chapter. Scantron tests were also new to my kids.

 

3. An increase in the amount of homework, tests and quizzes.  At a developmental/progressive school, students are given more project-oriented work that requires research, collaboration, planning and writing. In a traditional school, especially in middle school, there is homework in every class and several tests and/or quizzes each week. Tests and quizzes were less frequent at our developmental/progressive school and the homework was much lighter. The first time my son heard the term “pop test” was this year. My daughter had to adjust to a heavy volume of tests and homework, a big jump from the previous year.

 

 

Here’s what has been the LEAST challenging for my kids:

 

1. Organizational skills. My kids benefitted tremendously from their developmental/progressive school’s big, bold projects, which required extensive planning, organization and attention to a timeline/schedule. Staying organized, knowing what comes next and turning in assignments on time has been seamless for both my kids.

 

2. Working in groups. At the core of a developmental/progressive school is the belief that the sharing of ideas and working with each other is essential to learning.  Collaborating with other kids, sharing and expressing thoughts, listening to others’ opinions respectfully are concepts my kids understand. There is a lot less group work at a traditional school, but my kids have leadership skills that have been recognized—and called upon—by their peers.

 

3. Critical thinking. My kids both developed excellent critical thinking skills at their former school. The ability to ask thoughtful questions both in class–and after class– is also something they learned because it was encouraged. Asking questions and questioning the teacher (appropriately…think debate style) are essential skills progressive schools can teach kids.

 

Ultimately, your kid’s personality and other factors, along with your own preferences, will help determine the type of school that’s right for him/her. For my kids, a progressive elementary school worked well, but as the kids got older we knew we wanted a more traditional secondary school, one that aligned more closely with their interests and goals. I’m grateful my kids will have the benefit of both progressive and traditional private schools.

 

Let’s be social! Like Beyond The Brochure on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter. Are you more the email type? Get our posts in your in box by subscribing (enter your email in the subscribe” box on the right sidebar of the blog. Or, buy the Second Edition of our book at Amazon.com or your local bookstores!

 

Read More